He remembers heedlessly staring out the car window — halfway nodding off as trees and cars zoomed by — until a sign got his attention.
"I was like, ‘Hey, the University of Tennessee is right here,'" Smothers recalls telling the driver. "We need to stop real quick and check it out. I was screaming, man. I was like, ‘Pull over!'"
"I just remember being super impressed," Smothers told InsideTennessee. "When I saw that huge stadium I was like, ‘Dang, that's just awesome.'"
Smothers, now a Scout four-star prospect, had a similar reaction Tuesday when he learned Tennessee offered.
"I was really, really pumped," the Class of 2016 standout said. "I was amazed. The Vols, that's a big one. That's a big offer. It's an SEC school, man. Any offer from the SEC is big time. It's a great offer."
"It's just awesome," Smothers said. "I just feel blessed and trying to stay humble."
Smothers, who dubs Alabama and Florida State his two "biggest" offers, hopes to visit Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Florida and Alabama this summer.
"I'm just excited to start learning more about all this places," Smothers told IT.
The 5-foot-11, 155-pounder already knows a fair amount about Tennessee, saying its recent success at putting wide receivers in the NFL makes the Vols a "serious contender."
"When I think Tennessee, the first thing I think is big-time wideouts, man," Smothers told IT. "When I got the offer, Cordarrelle Patterson was the first thing to come to mind. He's a beast. They were loaded up at wideout last year and they just get all kinds of talent there."
Smothers is also well-versed on what he calls Tennessee's "rich tradition" and "massive" football facilities.
"I know they get so many people out for their games. I hear it's supposed to be crazy there," Smothers told IT. "And I've seen pictures and stuff of that workout facility and it looks insane."
Smothers said he's most interested in learning more about Tennessee's architecture program, as he calls education and early playing time the two biggest factors in his still-young recruitment.
"If they have a good architect program, then I can tell you I'll be very, very interested in Tennessee," he said.
Smothers says his relationship with Tennessee coaches is "still growing," but he is friends with current Vol D'Andre Payne.
"Hopefully (Payne) and I can talk Tennessee," Smother said. "If they got him, it has to be a great place."